Monday 3 August, 2020

Immunizations resume: here's everything you need to know

The Health Services Authority and the Public Health Department are advising the public that the childhood immunization programme will resume starting July 2020 with an island-wide campaign across all districts in the Cayman Islands. This initiative is organized to reduce the backlog of missed immunizations following the brief suspension of some childhood immunization services due to the Government’s stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders over the past three months.

The national immunization campaign will also include the yearly school entry vaccines undertaken by the Public Health Department.

Parents with booked appointments that were cancelled due to the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders will be contacted to have these appointments rescheduled.

To provide more convenient options for parents and caregivers the Public Health Department will expand access to vaccination programmes through the District Health Centres with special clinic hours as follows:

  • Eastern Districts – July 20 – July  24
  • West Bay – July 27- July 31
  • George Town – August 3- August 7
  • For Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Clinic: Residents should contact Faith Hospital to make arrangements.

Additional clinics may also be available during the week of August 17 for parents and children who are returning to the island later or missed the District sessions.  Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez urges parents and caregivers to take advantage of the scheduled clinic dates in each district.

The three-week campaign by the Public Health Department is intended to reach more than 400 children to ensure they are caught up with their routine immunization.

“Ensuring immunization services are maintained or reinitiated is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks and reducing the burden of respiratory illness as children prepare a return to school in September and during the upcoming influenza season,” said Dr Williams-Rodriguez.

The Cayman Islands has been recognized and awarded by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as one of the leading countries in the Americas region which has developed and maintained a robust vaccination schedule with more than 90% of the population immunised annually.

The current childhood immunisation schedule recommends that, by the age of 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines, which offer protection against 15 diseases:

  • Three doses of hepatitis B; (at birth, six weeks, nine months)
  • One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – tuberculosis vaccine); (at six weeks)
  • Three doses of rotavirus; (six weeks, four months, six months)
  • Three doses of the combined DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b) at two, four, six months)
  • Three doses of pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) at two, four, six months
  • One dose of varicella (chickenpox) and a booster of pneumococcal vaccine (at 12 months)
  • One dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); and a booster dose of combined DTaP and Hib (at 15 months)
  • Children also need booster doses of combined DTaP and IPV and a second dose of MMR at school entry (four to five years). For children six months and older and all adults, an annual influenza vaccine is recommended. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered to 11-12-year-old girls and older children if they did not get the vaccine at this age.

“These past few months have been difficult times, as parents have felt overwhelmed with worries and uncertainties about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important now to ensure every child who missed their vaccination gets caught up. With this expanded campaign we want to help ensure your children receive their routine immunizations to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases. When vaccination coverage goes down, more outbreaks will occur, including life-threatening diseases like measles and polio.” emphasized Dr Williams- Rodriguez.

For more information on the childhood immunization programme resumption, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2889.

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